I’ll try and rattle through things as quickly as I can this week as there seems to be one hell of a lot to get through. If you look at nothing else Saga and Saucer Country can’t be recommended enough.
DC – New 52 #7 Part 2
Batman & Robin
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E.
Thief Of Thieves
Written by Gail Simone
Pencilled by Alitha Martinez & Ardian Syaf
Inked by Vicente Cifuentes
Cover Colour by Ulises Arreola Palomera
Lettered by David L. Sharpe“Dear Diary In My Head tonight really didn’t go as I had no hoped at all.”
We start this issue running, well, drowning. In the midst of the action least ways. Batgirl keeps getting bested by her opponents. There’s a cameo from Black Canary, in a more substantial way than most of these things are. It provides a better grounding to the universe and also allows Batgirl’s past to be explored further. The end of the issue promises impressive things for next month.
Written by J.H. Williams, III & W. Haden Blackman
Pencilled by Amy Reeder Hadley
Inked by Rob Hunter
Cover Colour by Amy Reeder Hadley
Lettered by Todd KleinThe panel design lacks the panache of J.H. Williams III’s pages. Batwoman no longer moves as I’d expect her to, with combat not really flowing as it did in his artwork. I remain of the opinion Batwoman should have been done as a stand alone series as and when the art was ready, outside the 52.
Getting to the story then. There is weirdness this month in the form of some old monsters appearing, and the unlikely showing of a classic Batman villain. The writing remains as strong as every as we get more of Kate’s background in a unique way. As a continuation of the first arc there’s the feeling of something bigger in the works as plot threads start to come together.
Written by Kyle Higgins
Pencilled by Joe Bennett
Inked by Art Thibert
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Coloured by Simon Bisley & Jason WrightFamily reunions never go well. There’s been increasing depth to the series as it’s gone on. From opening issues that were mostly fighting the series progressed with more of Deathstroke’s wider world and past being expanded on, all revolving around the central idea of what makes hi live the life he does. There’s certainly a feeling of returning to the beginning with this issue that sees both recent and old mistakes catching up with the wounded Slade.
Demon Knights #7
Written by Paul Cornell
Pencilled by Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha
Inked by Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira & Robson Rocha
Cover Colour by Mike Choi
Lettered by Jared K FletcherSavage turns the fight on its head once again, and it’s hard to say for certain where his allegiance lies, if it does extend beyond his own interest at all. The Hordes numbers seem bound to win out against the Knights and the village and things really feel as though they hang in the balance. There are some last minute reprieves for some characters, and the first arc wraps up well. Quiet how things will go from here it’s going to be very good to see.
Green Lantern #7
Written by Geoff Johns
Pencilled by Doug Mahnke
Inked by Christian Alamy & Keith Champagne & Mark Irwin
Cover Colour by Alex Sinclair
Lettered by DC LetteringSinestro remains brilliantly written, and the interplay between him and Hal deepens as Carol gets drawn further into the struggle between the pair. The stars of the month are undoubtedly the Indigo tribe, who have been mysterious since their first appearance, but on whom light is finally being shed. The art returns to form, and this helps what is a story that’s a little on the slow side. There are revelations though, as the Guardian’s plans begin to take sinister form.
There’s a very nice sideswipe at the Kardashians (Never to be confused with the Cardassians) this month. A book of two halves as Timberwolf gets all the action this month as the team reassess their position in the time they’re stranded in.
The team get caught up in internal struggle as they go to the aid of a young girl who they fear is being tortured. An act that brings home to them quiet how far from home they are
Resurrection Man #7
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencilled by Fernando Dagnino Guerra
Inked by Fernando Dagnino Guerra
Cover Colour by Rafael Albuquerque
Lettered by Rob Leigh“Rock. Paper. Scissors. Force-field. Pyrokinesis.”
There are some odd angels for some of the panels, but otherwise the art is strong this month. Mitch finds himself caught up in a raid on a meth lab and intervenes when he spots what could be a link to his past. His past remains very much a mystery, as do his motivations, both to reader and character. There’s a move away from the struggle for resurrection though. Quite whether Mitch will turn out to be super hero or super villain is very much up in the air at the moment.
Suicide Squad #7
Written by Adam Glass
Pencilled by Ig Guara & Clayton Henry
Inked by Scott Hanna
Cover Colour by Rod Reis
Lettered by Jared K FletcherThe cover sadly gives away what is built up in the issue as a shock scene. There are still more than a few surprises in store this issue, although there much more style than substance. And it’s not good style at that. There’s a feeling of watching how far an envelope can be pushed. With a key player from the series so far off the board for a little while it’d be nice to see the series start to concentrate on its characters more.
Written by Scott Lobdell & Tom DeFalco
Pencilled by RB Silva & Ivbn Coello Soria
Inked by Robeiro Leandro da Silva & Ivbn Coello Soria
Cover Colour by Barbara Ciardo
Lettered by DC LetteringSuperboy’s powers remain both his greatest strength and a key weakness as ably demonstrated this month by Rose Wilson. There’s a lot fitted into this issue but still more remains unknown than known pleasingly. There’s a set up for next fortnight Teen Titans that is full of promise.
Batman & Robin
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E.
The Shade #6
Written by James Robinson
Pencilled by Javier Pulido
Inked by Javier Pulido
Cover Colour by Tony Harris
Lettered by Todd KleinThis seems to have come around very quickly. The Inquisitor gets a bit of background colour added to him as past encounters with La Sangre are revealed. Another hero is revealed, Montpellier, a fighter and detective favourably compared by the Shade to members of the Bat-family. This issue acts as a prelude to the face off with the Inquisitor as he sets a plan in motion with the suicide of some of his followers, and baits La Sangre into confronting him.
The Ray #4
Written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Pencilled by Jamal Igle
Inked by Richard Perrotta
Lettered by DC Lettering
Coloured by Jamal IgleThe end of this arc seeing a very different face off from the norm. While the unusual resolution of the story line fits the style of the series it does feel that things have been tided away a little too neatly, and at the risk of robbing the impact from the story on any subsequent readings. Hopefully though we’ll being seeing more of The Ray in the future as the series has provided something different to the usual superhero fare without departing from the genre.
Incredible Hulk #6
Written by Jason Aaron
Pencils by Whilce Portacio
Inks by Allen MartinezThe tone of the series is an odd one. Hulk and Banner’s new dynamic is one of violence, regrets and a little nuance. Amanda Von Doom seems to be there for sexually toned humour. The sheer excess of the Hulk and Banner’s fight should probably be applauded, with pages of exotically ridiculous weaponry and lots of punching.
The art is weirdly inconsistent in how characters look, and while not a problem it’s a niggle. The plot does a job of closing its own plot holes which is nice, but feels a bit like make work. It does however end on a huge cliff hanger and leaves a few other threads dangling into the bargain.
The infection of the city takes an unexpected turn this week and it becomes clear that while Boriseko’s plan may not being working out quite as designed nor are the judges going to be able to prevent a wide-scale outbreak.
Age of the Wolf – She is Legend Pt2
A disappointing second part that hopefully sees the last of getting people up to speed and introducing the new characters. There’s certainly a dark undercurrent that comes a little to close to the surface for my taste, but all will be forgiven if there’s purpose behind it.
Grey Area- Personal Space Pt3
The arc concludes this week, with Birdy and Bulliet resolving their little alien hitchhiker problem nicely. Quiet if the nudity was necessary is debatable though. The last page is a real kicker and puts a different complexion on a lot of the previous stories.
Judge Anderson – What if…?
Another alternate history story, this time focused around a civilian Cassandra Anderson. I didn’t really feel at home with the story, and rather suspect I’m missing important background knowledge that’d make it all click. None the less there are good bits, and the self aware ending is a nice touch.
Nikolai Dante- The Wedding of Jena Makarov Pt11
The final part of the arc finishes brilliantly, with things resolved but far from a return to the status quo. There is still much happening elsewhere within the larger story but there richly deserve space given over here to a deeply poignant scene.
The Activity #4
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Mitch GeradsAnother very tightly written issue this month that sees a bit of playing about with a mix of technology in an operation to kidnap a drug lord without alerting his comrades to American intervention. Leslie gets a stand-out bit of tense action, that is heightened by the feeling that there’s no safe bet as to where this series is going. The art really suits the story, and provides a very nicely done night op that represents the fact without muddying the action.
Written by Brian K Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Lettered by FonografiksAt a mighty 40 odd pages Saga kick off in fantastic, sweary, gun fighting style. Myth, demons and general weirdness collide with robots, spaceships and sex.
Alana and Marko, lovers from different sides of a very big war, find themselves caught in the middle of a firefight as their child is born. Fleeing the scene, it’s soon revealed that the powers controlling the fighting are bent on tracking them down.
The characters and setting is introduced brilliantly, all without a single caption box, a feat in and of itself. A unique read that already has been waiting eagerly for more.
Saucer Country #1
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Ryan Kelly
Coloured by Giulia BruscoOh boy is there a lot going on. Governor Arcadia Alvarado of New Mexico is about to announce her run for the Presidency, and is dealing with all the politicking, and stress that involves.
Professor Joshua Kidd of Harvard University is having visions, of a disturbing sort, and finds his job hanging by a thread after publishing “Flying Objects” a book asserting his belief in UFO’s.
There’s political meetings, ex husbands, security services of dubious moral integrity, hints of something extra terrestrial, possible hints of something else entirely and more besides.
Thief Of Thieves #2
Written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer
Art by Shawn Martinbrough
Coloured by Felix Serrano
Lettered by Rus WootonAn issue of two intercut halves. The first is steadily paced as we see Conrad in the aftermath of his decision to quit, and find out why he has. The second half is a flash back to a bank job that gets a little more noisy than expected. The two apparently disparate threads and nicely interconnected and work well to expand on Conrad as a character and the point he’s reached in his life. The only rough patch is the iffy sound effects that overly dominate some of the panels, and a glass desk that looks horribly drawn. Two minor things to pull up perhaps, but they show up against the otherwise strong art and well written plot.
Saga is without doubt or competition my pick for this week. Followed closely by Saucer Country, they both stand out for the same reason. They are both different from the norm, and seeing to headed to odd places indeed.
The Activity, Thief of Thieves and The Shade remain very good and worth reading.
Elsewhere 2000AD feels a little shaky, but the Dante story rescues it. This does however highlight the weakness of the weekly format as a slow bit of story can’t be lost in such a short space.
Of the 52 only Demon Knights, Superboy and Batgirl really stand out. Batwoman is very good, but I still miss the artwork. Once again Green Lantern and Deathstroke receive my recommendation, but I fear the others are far more a case personal preference than any pushing my me can overcome. From Marvel the first arc of the Incredible Hulk is beginning to feel stretched, and the cover price is possibly too high for the sake of spectacle alone.